Friday, 1 October 2010
Mike Fleetham, ex-engineer, ex assistant headteacher, trainer, inspirer and author sends me thought provocations every now and then. I think it's always accidental. Yesterday he sent me this.....
“A court in India has said that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya should be split between Hindus and Muslims, but both sides plan to appeal”
Therein lies humanity's total problems
I blogged ages ago about a story Mike has in one of his books about a frog eating a snake that was eating the same frog (in a loop) as a metaphor for conflict. It reminded me of that. One eating the other eating the other in a futile exercise of destruction, unable to grasp the concept of its futility and so carrying on with dogged determination.
From afar, when you are not embroiled in the intense emotion, this kind of situation can send one into a despondent marvelling at the ridiculousness of conflict. Obviously it’s easy to rise above these things when one is not directly involved and its impacts potentially felt daily - when you are completely impartial. But it did provoke thought – like Mike is in the habit of doing - but it won't necessarily be cohesive..so jump ship now if you like concrete things that make absolute sense...um...let's see....
In my opinion we are, generally, a bit rubbish at truly respectfully agreeing to disagree (a slightly tenuous way of describing the above situation I know - as this disagreement has culminated in a territorial argument - but it originated from difference and disagreement) We are not great at accepting that someone else just thinks differently, holds different values, opinions or beliefs or tunes into situations in a different way. Why is that? What bothers us when someone else does not agree with us - especially if it's someone we respect? (Obviously if they are holding us at gunpoint and demanding that we agree with them - that might bother us.)
We are encouraged to make up our own minds and form our own opinions. I’m all for that. But then you get lots of different opinions and rarely find consensus.
But lots of viewpoints is good isn't it? A big thinking pot mulling ideas about - enjoying ideas, thinking, challenging, tempering extreme views (that might one day not seem extreme) and making ideas more likely to be fully formed and well considered - yes?. (Actually it's a wonder we do ever move in any direction! It's not just scientifically proven facts that we act on to change societal views - is it?)
There was a time in history when religion made lots of people think and believe the same (or similar) thing. Religion did an effective job of making the majority believe the same thing. Within one community, when there is consensus there appears to be harmony - doesn't there? Is that proof that we are just so uneasy with having different views?
So now I ask. Are we aiming for easy harmony through agreement (which might, ironically, be what drives us to strive sometimes aggressively for agreement) or more tolerance with conflict? Surely the latter if we are to accommodate lots of different viewpoints comfortably.
So how do we do that?
Would the Muslims and Hindus be more willing to make the suggested compromise if they had not arrived at a point of hating each other through centuries of refusing to agree to disagree respectfully?
Now I am just annoying myself. I think Mike should wait a while before sending me any more things to think about. Might one of you rescue me from myself?